As I write this, an esoteric symbol awakened by fascist German ritualists is flashing subliminally across hundreds of thousands—probably millions—of handheld screens. “Liked” and “shared” by liberals and conservatives alike, the photographs bearing that symbol, the Black Sun, depict innocent, compassionate, and smiling fair-haired men and women fighting against a great foreign evil.
Maybe you’ve noticed. Leftists definitely have, or what we used to once properly call leftists. So, too, have the most occult-minded among us, ever-attentive to what Empires are signaling to their over-mediated and intellectually exhausted subjects.
Unfortunately, while such people express deep alarm over this sudden memetic warfare, others—including those whose social media reputations were built dishonestly upon brand-name anti-fascism—happily re-assure you that there’s no real fascism problem in Ukraine. While they might admit that indeed the AZOV battalion—founded upon extreme worship of Stepan Bandera’s anti-communist and antisemitic nationalism—is full of actual Nazis, we’re assured that any worry over fascism is just propaganda from the supposed mastermind of all global fascism himself, Putin.
The real fascists, we are told, are those who criticize NATO, who oppose a no-fly zone, and most of all those who ask any questions at all.
There was once a time that everyday sorts, rather than just Marxists and magicians, felt safe to worry aloud about such things, to express doubt about state-aligned narratives propagated through capitalist media networks. Years of social media smear campaigns against anyone who didn’t use the right words made sure they learned to stay silent. Better to post cat photos than be called a terrorist, better still to call others terrorist to preempt any potential accusation against yourself.
The other day, NATO’s social media accounts posted an image of a Ukrainian woman soldier wearing a Black Sun patch in honor of International Women’s Day, then removed it without apology.
Not weird at all, of course. Not weird, either, the young women soldiers staring passionately into cameras to beckon more international recruits to defend Ukraine against mongol hoards.
What’s happening in Ukraine is horrifying, and so is also what is happening to the rest of our minds. It’s not new, of course: since the birth of mass media, capitalists and the governments they control have experimented with ways to manufacture the “consent of the governed.” It used to be newspapers, then television networks, and now social media. Each taught us not just what to think, but how to think, what kinds of narratives to tolerate, what kinds of narratives to fear.
“I don’t speak television,” an indigenous woman said famously to a reporter who asked her about the death of her native language. She could not communicate with her grandchildren, not because she could not speak English, but because television had created dominant narratives of a world in which her stories no longer mattered.
We’ve collectively become like her grandchildren, but rather than speaking television we now speak Social Media. We narrate the world to ourselves the way it teaches us to narrate the world, to include things which support the capitalist order and exclude things, ideas, and especially people who do not.
The world as it is narrated now is a world of one evil against one good, Russia vs. Ukraine, Putin’s patriarchal frown versus Zelenskyy’s rolled-up liberal sleeves. It’s Oligarchy versus Western Capitalism, our billionaires the products of Democratic processes, their billionaires mere scions of corruption. Even Ukrainian fascists are seen in a kinder light than Russian ones, because Facebook says it’s okay to post only nice things about them now.
The esoteric purpose of the Black Sun is simple, one any occultist worth the title recognizes quickly. It’s nigredo, the blackening, the moment where everything is destroyed in order for something new to arise. It’s a triggered destruction of an old order of meaning, the passage through a moment of meaninglessness, and then into the formation of a new. The Christian equivalent is the Dark Night of the Soul. Gramsci called it the “time of monsters,” of morbid systems.
It’s what happens when you stare at the sun too long, long past the moment of safety. As the extreme light burns into your retina, the sun appears to go black, to become flat, and to spin. You leave with the sense that there is nothing behind the sun, that all meaning is merely constructed. There is no truth, only what man creates.
Man has created some terrifying truths, the worst of which is not war itself, but our justifications for war. The other side is always evil, and therefore our side is always good. No complexity can arise from such a false belief in truth, only obedience, patriotism, and bloodshed. Nuance is a threat, as is any attempt to understand the other side. To de-escalate a conflict is to betray the truth, the nation, the people, the cause.
We are in a time of monsters, a time of fragile truths, a time of a rising Black Sun. Russia started all this, and NATO started it before Russia, but regardless we are told at all costs to support a nation whose official soldiers wear insignia we previously understood as dangerous. It’s still dangerous, as is the fascism it represents, something much stronger and more terrifying even than the right-wing thugs beating up protesters in American streets.
What is rising with that sun is not something which can be fought with social change or educational reform, nor can it be dismissed as merely just “one kind” of fascism.
Few Americans have thought what will become of all those guns they helped buy for the Ukrainian resistance. Zelenskyy released all prisoners with combat experience and gave them weapons, so there are now rapists and murderers running around with guns. Far right militia groups throughout Europe have issued calls to join the fight against Russia in Ukraine, meaning if they survive, they’ll come back with more weapons and more insurgency skills to attack leftists in their home countries.
Your generous American donations are helping that happen.
Worse, though, is how few Americans have probably thought much about what their calls for a no fly zone, the “#closethesky’ demand seen not just on social media but on protest signs, actually means.
That’s not an anti-war chant, of course, but rather a call to escalate the war.
All this to fight for what too many see as an innocent liberal nation standing up against a great illiberal evil, rather than one capitalist nation fighting another capitalist nation supported by a much larger bloc of capitalist nations. It’s capitalism all around, and the much larger question of whether Russia or NATO has the moral authority to bully that part of Europe.
Putin called it “de-nazification,” and we all know that’s a lie, but most missed the horrible joke he was making. In the past decade, Ukraine ramped up their process of de-communization, stripping public buildings of any reference to their Soviet history. Street names were changed, villages re-christened, and most of all communist politics itself made illegal. The most severe places where this occurred were the eastern provinces, the places full of the most “ethnic Russians” who were increasingly treated as second-class citizens.
Of course, so were the Roma and other minorities. One of AZOV’s earliest propaganda videos shows these brave and noble soldiers harrassing old women and tearing down their makeshift homes, much like what the police in the woke bastions of Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco do against the homeless.
Thus Putin’s sick joke, as well as his statement that Ukraine would soon learn what de-communization “really” meant.
What Ukraine has been doing would otherwise count as crimes against humanity. What Russia is doing does as well. There’s no side to take here between them, but our social media mind has taught us all we must take sides. Everything’s a war between freedom and fascism, all the social justice identities against those who want to destroy them. Kamala Harris declares her pronouns on her personal Twitter bio, signaling to us all which side America is really on. Putin locks up gays and protesters, so how is this choice not clear?
Of course, we used to understand that a forced decision is not a decision at all. Coke and Pepsi are both sugar waters, Biden and Trump were both capitalists, Russia and NATO are both imperial capitalist forces. Though we all got good at questioning the “gender binary,” too few have also thought to question the most violent binaries of all.
Too few, but not no one. Christopher Scott Thompson, for example, one of the last remaining anarchists who actually hews to anarchist principles rather than buying into the state-sponsored anarcho-liberalism of Vaush and Alexander Reid Ross, still understands this. Some major socialist parties have tried to hold the line against these false choices as well, but of course they’re all labeled Russian employees by those who speak Social Media.
The Black Sun is the perfect symbol for these false choices, because of what comes after the crisis it triggers. People who experience life-shattering abuse or circumstances of extreme fear cling very tightly to the closest order of meaning presented to them. This is the mechanism of cults and of Stockholm Syndrome. The conversion experience of evangelical Christianity—the manipulated emotions leading to the “rock bottom” of acknowledgement of sin—is based upon this principle. Bomb a middle eastern country into “the stone age” and they all become fundamentalists. Broadcast the twin towers collapsing repeatedly for weeks into every home, and suddenly you’ve got a nation of jingoistic patriots.
It’s thus amusing that liberal “witches” in the United States have called to hex Putin with sunflower seeds. Derived from the (possibly staged or false, just like the ghost of kyiv and the Snake Island “martyrs”) story of an old woman giving a Russian soldier a sunflower seed, the same people who tried to take down Trump with a baby carrot now ritualise a heliotrope.
A black sun is calling to them from their smartphone screens. They answer its call, grasping for stability in a capitalist order crashing down around them.
It’s further amusing that these same would-be magicians try to start a witch war against those who refuse the false choice offered to us all. While urging on an escalation of a war far from the safety of their homes, they repeat the same propaganda of Empire, speaking only in Social Media. Ukrainian soldiers prevent trans women from leaving the country and force them instead to fight as men, but we’re assured that an occultist in Cornwall whose entire life’s work is teaching people how to resist Empire, and a Jewish gay occultist in Tasmania are the real ‘transphobes’ and ‘fascists.’
I’ve heard even that a Marxist druid in the Ardennes is also on the side of the enemy, but he doesn’t speak Social Media any longer, sorry. Neither, though, will I stop writing against this rising black sun, by which I mean the much greater fascist urge infecting those who cynically style themselves enemies of fascism for social media clout.
That fascist urge looks like Liberals seething with desire for war. It looks like “Biden leftists” parroting Bush’s imperial ambitions for the sake of oil. It looks like Reagan-era satanic panics and McCarthy-era Red Scares (“are you now or were you ever a class reductionist?”)
It also looks just like what and how social media trains them to think. Enemies at every gated entrance to their virtual community, threatening to take away their weekend brunch through the horror of the Real. Poverty expands throughout the global south while they slide their thumbs across machines made with their near-slave and slave labor. Black ichor seeps through the walls of their mansion of modern freedoms while they add a nationalist flag next to their pronouns in a social media bio.
Jealous smears might earn you a bit of social capital, but it will do nothing to slow the spread of capitalism’s crises from which you benefit. Nor will it slow the greater contagion of independent thought and honest questions spoken with human voices rather than algorithmic words.
You might start to ask those questions too. You might finally wonder if the choices before you were the only possible choices. You might also wonder what that Black Sun really means, and why social media has been flashing it to you everytime you look.
And maybe, just maybe, you’ll learn to look away from that false sun completely and towards another sun instead, the one which shines upon us all from the sky above, rather than from the screen in your hand.
There's a British poet named Toby Martinez de las Rivas. A few years back he published a collection with Faber called 'Black Sun'. A leftist 'critic' (read: ideologue) wrote a blog in which he claimed the poet was a fascist, and that all the poems in the collection were 'dogwhistling' to the far right (etc. ) All hell broke loose, and the British 'poetry community' (all hyper-woke upper middle class types) tried to cancel both de las Rivas and Faber with a vengeance. Rivas claimed he didn't know what the Black Sun was in a political context, and I tend to believe him. What poems of his I have read are of course in no way neo-Nazi: though they are not progressive or post-modern either, which may be his real crime. Anyway, he was abused all over the shop in the most dishonest of ways. I'd be willing to bet that many of those who jumped on that bandwagon are now going all-out for war on Russia.
Evidently, there was a protest / art thing-y at the Guggenheim in which "artists" threw paper airplanes into the central spiral of the Guggenheim: Demanding a no-fly zone.
Don't get me going on what M.F.A. programs have done to art. And don't get me going on artists who think that pronouns are politics.
Yet what may be most important to keep in mind about social media is that they have cultivated an unfiltered, unreflective self. Think of the "campaigns" to have all transgendered roles in film to be played by transgendered actors. It's the self in action, demanding, demanding.
The word "selfie" is the perfect coinage, although those who coined it are not likely to see the horrible ironies.
This is the first crowd-sourced war--backed by many, many photos of blond children to cause atavistic feelings among Americans. The Mongol hordes that you mentioned.
And many countries now want to bring in as many Ukrainian refugees as they can, not thinking of the unintended consequences, often seen in the US of A, of the worst sort of rightwing immigrants preaching that social change is not possible.